I have five adult children who constantly come to me with financial emergencies. I am 70 years old. Our family is fractured, so I’m trying all I can to preserve relationships. How intrusive can I be in their use of money?
Financially Fatigued Mom
Dear Financially Fatigued Mom,
Old woman taking money out of her wallet | Getty Images/ Dobrila Vignjevic
The Scripture is true: “I have no greater joy than to hear my children are walking in the truth.” (3 John 1:4, ESV). I would add to that: “I have no greater relief than to see my children paying their own way in life.”
This is an emotionally charged topic. Navigating family relationships is challenging enough; but throw in the financial expectations they may have, and it can be very explosive. Here is my advice.
Set new boundaries
Your desire to preserve relationships within your family is important and appropriate. But, unless you set boundaries, you will likely never accomplish your desired goal. Adult children who continue to look to you for financial help will depend on you instead of God. Enabling them prolongs your pain and prevents them from maturing in financial matters. Your goal should be to help them “grow up” and handle money wisely.
You should resolve to only provide them with Biblical financial counsel — and not funds. Before anyone comes to you for more money, let them each know privately the way that you plan to handle things in the future.
Set new expectations
Consider writing a letter so they fully understand your intentions. It could go something like this:
In the past, I have tried my best to help you financially. Because I love you, things will be different from this day forward. My goal is that you learn how to handle money wisely and escape the need for my financial support in the future.
- I no longer will be giving you money; rather, I am resolved to give you the wisdom and tools that you need to escape the financial emergencies that you experience from time to time.
- Please go through a financial literacy program. Crown offers online courses and budget coaching. You can enroll in other courses, read financial literacy books, or seek my advice for different materials to help you learn.
- Develop a budget, and begin to live by it. This is how I am able to make due on …….